Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Body Shaming Dangers, Why You Should Be Body Positive and How to Do It

<--This is me in 2013, 65# overweight. --> is me in 2020. In 7 years, I've spent a lot of time thinking and writing about body size. Body-shaming, fat-shaming, body image...these terms have gotten a lot of media attention in recent years. This is down to several issues in our culture. First, more people are getting fat and fatter. So more attention is put on weight. Second, it is becoming more socially acceptable to call out, shame and harass fat people. Third, this bullying is finally getting recognized as such. People who used to tolerate and expect shaming and even self-shame (raises hand) are now realizing how damaging it is. They (we) are fighting back.

We are trying to teach ourselves to be kinder to our bodies. And part of that is learning to love it the way it is. Because before you try to change something, you have to accept it. Al-Anon has shown us that (along with many other self-care tools). Do some people go overboard with the body positivity, asking us to accept that being 200 pounds is just fine, even beautiful? Sure. But it's a pendulum process...social norms that have been extreme in one direction must swing far in the other direction before coming to land somewhere in a happy medium.

The ultimate goal, then, must be to first love ourselves and our bodies as they are...precious gifts from our Heavenly Father. Then and only then can we begin the process of getting them to healthier places, e.g. with weight loss, fitness initiatives, etc. And let me just pause to mention here that it's not just folks who are overweight who struggle with body issues. Being underweight can be just as difficult, perhaps moreso. For some people, it's easier to lose weight than put it on, believe it or not. But still healthy body image is the essential first step.

If you read my post from a few days ago, you'll remember that I promised some homework to practice body positivity skills. A lot of negativity exists in our heads. We imagine that people are thinking or saying things about us. Whether they are or aren't doesn't really matter. We become paranoid and begin to see ourselves as we believe they see us. So we start by changing our minds, literally. Here's how.

1) Start analyzing negative thoughts and feelings. Figure out where they are coming from. Was someone rude to you? Did they give you a funny look? Are you feeling vulnerable today? Are you unhappy with the way you look?
2) HALT: That's an acronym for hungry, angry, lonely, tired: are you any of those? Then you will not be at your best. Everything will look bleaker. Don't put too much emphasis on negative feelings and thoughts but do work to correct hunger, anger, loneliness and exhaustion.
3) Fix your tape recorder. Erase negative messages playing in your head: "I'm fat." "I'm ugly." "I'm a loser." "People don't like me." "I don't like me." (you know the kind). Make new, healthier messages. "I'm pretty (handsome)" "I'm a winner." etc. Yes, you'll feel silly at first. You'll live...do it anyway! No, you may not really mean it...you will in time. Fake it till you make it. Practice doesn't make perfect but it does make things a lot better.

Herein ends part one of the lesson. Love you all bunches!! 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I think fat, therefore I am...or not?

Seen on Facebook recently, a post which makes excellent food for thought (oh I do love my puns) about body image and fat. The question was asked why we say we (or others) ARE fat or thin. It was noted that we don't say "I am brown hair" or "I am beard." We say "I HAVE brown hair or a beard." These are physical attributes and so are body sizes and shapes. Isn't it bad enough that we fault ourselves for being overweight (or underweight)? Must we also let the scale tell us who we are?

I've worked very hard for several years to shed some excess pounds and keep them off. I'm proud of this weight loss. But the inside core has not changed, now that I am smaller. I may look and feel different, better, healthier, etc. but Marilisa is no different. I am still kind, friendly, easily annoyed, loving, somewhat lazy. Arguably I'm happier and less self-conscious but my me-ness remains. And it is TONS bigger and more important that a scale number.

Why do we let our body size become us? It stems from plus-size negativity regarding bigger bodies. Unkind words, shaming, social stigma, bullying, media messages all focus heavily on weight, more than any other physical feature. And it has become socially acceptable, even encouraged, to shame people who are fat...oops, see, even I said it...I mean who have extra fat. It's as if fat negates every other aspect of us.

Some people feel it's their duty to call attention to someone's weight problems. Hilariously,, it's often people who themselves could stand to lose 10 or 90 pounds! And overweight people come to expect it and sometimes even mock themselves! This is a deadly vicious circle. Are you caught in this cycle? Do you shame yourself and/or allow others to?  I'm going to assign some homework to help you break it. I'll blog more on that shortly.

Blog Archive